Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

The Paradox of Becoming a Father

I have only been a father for about three and a half weeks, but I already know enough to tell you that it's really hard. So hard, that'd I think it's fair to say that at least half the time (probably more) it feels impossible.

I feel guilty saying that because fatherhood is supposed to be the most amazing experience, and the day you become a father is the best day of your life, with the exception maybe of the day you got married. No, guilty is the wrong word - I feel like a wuss and a traitor saying this.

By the way, fatherhood is the most amazing, joyous thing I've ever done and becoming a papa was the best moment of my life, with our wedding day as an exception.

Which is the paradox - fatherhood is both the best and most debilitating feeling I've ever had.

It's hard in ways that I didn't expect. I expected to be exhausted, and I expected to feel like I was doing everything wrong. I expected to have a cluttered house. I expected having to cut tremendous amounts of time away from hobbies, exercise, and mindless entertainment.

I didn't expect feeling invisible and dispensable to most people (my wife and a handful of others being an exception to this - Robyn has made me feel indispensable, valued, and loved) and then embarrassed about feeling like my needs were overlooked. I didn't expect how much grief I still had stirring around my heart over the loss of my own father. I didn't expect that I wouldn't have a euphoric moment the moment our son was born and feel an instant connection of unconditional love like in the movies (I didn't). I didn't expect how having a baby immediately changes your relationship with your parents and immediate family. I didn't expect to feel as alone as I did.

And to be honest, I thought our kid wouldn't be one of those that cried inconsolably - he'd be an exception to the rule...obviously. Which luckily, he's not colicky by any means, but he is a newborn and newborns cry fairly often, sometimes for reasons that are not immediately obvious. (Full disclosure: I also didn't expect just how many diapers one sub-ten-pound human could fill in a day. It's unreal).

But I also didn't expect how much more I could love my wife now that she is a mother. I didn't think the outpouring of love we've received from family, medical professionals, friends, colleagues, neighbors we barely know, and even some strangers was possible, but it's real. I didn't expect how natural it feels to be with your own child and how quickly innate instincts take over.

That is the paradox of becoming a father, I suppose. It's so unbelievably trying, while still being better than just about any other season of your life.

---

I wanted to share this because I felt blindsided by how impossibly hard the first few weeks of fatherhood would feel. This is my attempt to help any to-be fathers out there be a little more prepared than I was.

If there are any fathers out there than want to chat (or guest post!!), share blogs, or even just lend some advice to others in the comments - let's do it. Fatherhood is so hard and so important, I'll take all the help I can get and I think others would too.